Email marketing is one of the most important channels for ecommerce businesses. Having an engaged and active email list is more powerful than having a huge following on social media. This is because your subscribers have made an active choice to receive more communications from you. Your customers can make this choice by signing up for a newsletter, clicking a box to receive ongoing communication, or “opting-in” to your mailing list.
It’s important to note that it is not an ethical practice to add someone to your mailing list just because you have their contact information. The choice to opt-in for ongoing communication should be the customer’s, and there should be an easy way to opt out with every communication.
In 2019, global email users amounted to 3.9 billion users (Statista, 2020). This figure is set to grow to 4.3 billion usersin 2023 (Statista, 2020). That’s half of the world’s population! Through email marketing, you have the power to reach people 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Invite your customers to “opt-in” to receive a newsletter or notices of specials running at your business. Make this information relevant and useful for your customer. Consider providing a “coupon” that will give them a discount on their next purchase. A well thought out email marketing strategy using broadcast and “drip” campaigns (discussed below) can earn you a higher return on investment.
Below are a few types of email campaigns:
Broadcast email: A single email that is sent to a large group of contacts at once. Broadcast emails work best in awareness campaigns designed to inform your readers and promote new announcements.
Drip campaign: A series of emails often triggered by an action. Such actions include a welcome email to a new subscriber, abandoned cart reminder, or a post purchase follow up. This type of email campaign is created and scheduled based on the subscriber’s entry into the drip campaign.
Example: a customer adds a product to their cart and enters their email address, but they do not complete the purchase and leave the website. Two hours later they receive an email reminding them they did not finish their purchase. If the customer still doesn’t complete their purchase, they are reminded a day or two later, although this time there is a promotional code that will give them an incentive to complete the purchase. Drip campaigns can be very effective and only need to be set up once – and then keep an eye on their performance.
Email automation: There are platforms that can help you set up email automation, so that when your customer does a particular action an email is sent automatically. This can be a single email or a drip campaign.
A note on data collection and privacy compliance
When dealing with email marketing which involves collecting user data, complying to privacy law is mandatory. If you conduct business globally, particularly with the European Union (EU), become familiar with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR is a data privacy and security law drafted and passed by the EU, but imposes obligations onto organizations anywhere, so long as they target or collect data related to people in the EU. The GDPR’s purpose is to protect users’ data and privacy.
In terms of email marketing, what the GDPR does is clarify the terms of consent, requiring organizations to ask for an affirmative opt-in to be able to send communications. You must also make it easy for people to change their mind and opt out. An email violates GDPR if it does not present the option to unsubscribe, is sent to someone who never signed up for it, or does not advertise a service related to one the receiver uses.
These are also general best practices for email marketing, but legally speaking should not be ignored. Look more into GDPR to be sure you are covered if you are conducting business globally.
Text or SMS/MMS message marketing
Text message marketing can be an effective tool as well and generally a more personal connection than other digital marketing efforts. Text marketing isn’t appropriate for every situation, but it can be effective for exclusive coupons, limited specials, and new offerings your customers can make use of right away.
It’s important to be aware of text marketing laws to avoid penalties and fines. According to an article in Textedly, under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), in the US businesses may not send messages to consumers without their consent. Businesses are required to obtain explicit written consent to add subscribers to their subscription list. As consumers opt in to text/SMS/MMS marketing campaigns, they must receive clear disclosure of the messages they will receive, and they must agree to receive them on their mobile device. Consumers must also have a way to unsubscribe. Similar laws exist in the EU through GDPR, in Canada through Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and Data Protection Act in the United Kingdom.